|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Xbox One|
Battlerite is a free-to-play team-based action game based on multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) gameplay developed and published by Stunlock Studios. The game is considered a spiritual successor to Bloodline Champions and is created by the same developers. An early access version of the game was released in September 2016, selling over 440,000 copies within three months, and was officially released on November 7, 2017.
Battlerite is a Team Arena Brawler focused on adrenaline-fueled player vs player combat. Short and intense matches, stripped of random elements to optimize the action. Welcome to a world where champions dedicate their lives to the arena.
In May 2018, the developers announced the development of a new free-to-play game mode based on the battle royale genre planned to be released in the summer of the same year. In August 2018, the developers announced that the game mode would no longer be free and instead would be released as a standalone game planned to be released by the end of September of the same year.
In July 2019, Stunlock Studios announced that active work on the title would stop. October of the same year saw the last content update; both Battlerite and Battlerite Royal were to stay in 'maintenance mode' for the foreseeable future.
Battlerite consists of two teams, with two or three players each, battling against each other. Before the game begins, each player chooses a unique playable character called a Champion with unique offensive, defensive, and movement abilities. Defeating every player on the enemy team wins the round for your team, and winning three rounds wins your team the game. Rounds have a timer of around two minutes, and when the timer runs out a Sudden Death boundary appears which gradually forces players into a small area in the center of the map. Games may be played on one of several maps, each favoring different strategies.
Unlike traditional MOBA games, the goal of the game is not to destroy towers or other base structures. Additionally, players do not kill neutral units to gain resources, and therefore players cannot buy items or other resources in the game to augment their character's stats or abilities. This leads to an action-focused gameplay with in short matches compared to the longer strategy-focused games common in the genre.
Battlerite received mainly favorable reviews from critics; on aggregate review website Metacritic the game attains an overall score of 85 out of 100.
PC Gamer gave the game a score of 89%, praising the game's pace, free-to-play model, and simplicity compared to other games in its genre. Similarly, IGN's Ian Nowakowski gave Battlerite a score of 8.2/10. While criticizing the randomized progression rewards as 'lackluster,' Nowakowski concludes 'Battlerite strikes true where it counts, and that’s in the arena. The teamfighting hits hard at the core of what makes competitive gaming so engaging hour after hour.'
Battlerite quickly rose in popularity upon launch. Two weeks after the game launched on Steam's Early Access, Stunlock Studios claimed they had already amassed 200,000 players, despite the fact that at the time the game was pay-to-play. As of right now, Battlerite has a small player base. According to SteamCharts, in 2017 player count peaked in November with 44,850 players in that month; as of 2018 the average monthly peak has decreased to less than 4,000.
PC Gamer included Battlerite in its list of the best free games on the Steam platform.
One of the reasons MOBAs seem to be so exclusive of new players is the fact that the learning curve is quite long, since there are so many things you need to know and learn before you can even think about getting good. Hence, in games like Dota 2 it is not enough to know how to handle one hero, because you won’t be able to defend against others if you are not aware of how their abilities work. Furthermore, you also need to learn the map, how to deal with mobs, as well as how items work and which ones are the best for you.
Battlerite is an arena brawler that takes away almost all of those annoyances and allows you to start playing right away, while still having a very high skill ceiling. This is because the whole gameplay is based on player skill instead of champion abilities, which means that your hero is only as good as you are. It’s easy to start playing and learn the basics, but it’s very difficult to get really good and compete with the best of them.
The game features multiple champions to choose from, each one of which comes with various abilities. However, you actually do most of the damage using regular shots, which means that it’s important to improve your mouse aiming skills in order to hit your target. It’s also worth noting that movement is incredibly important, since by not staying in one place you make it harder for enemy players to kill you.
Since this is a free-to-play game, loot boxes shouldn’t be surprising, but at least they don’t seem to have too much of an impact in terms of gameplay. Hence, you can get flashy mounts and nice-looking skins, but nothing that can break the balancing of the game. On the other hand, you can perform battlerites to customize your skills, which allows you to choose what abilities are best suited for your play style.
Before wrapping things up, it’s also worth noting that Battlerite had quite a few issues lately, probably because the developers are still fine-tuning things. You can expect a few crashes and bugs, but they are constantly being worked on, so they shouldn’t stick around for too long. As for the graphics, they are pretty colorful and enjoyable, yet not too demanding on your system, which is great news for a MOBA that requires quick reflexes and minimum input lag.
In the end, Battlerite needs some fixes when it comes to bugs and crashes, but other than that it is on the right path. The fast-paced combat is exciting, the skill shots are very difficult to master, and there seem to be enough players so the queues are not very long. Thus, it’s worth a shot if you’ve had it with the classics of the genre.